Located 109 kilometers from Imphal, on Manipur Nagaland border, Mao Village is known for its rich tradition and culture. Osu Kaka, an indigenous game of the Mao tribe, is held during the post harvest Chiithuni festival, is known for its uniqueness.
Played between the bachelors and married, Osu Kaka, the men only game, offered a break to everyone after hard work in the fields. It is played between two teams, each comprising of six to ten members. Tradition has it that the members of the winning team invite the other team for a feast.
Kaisii Lohrii, one elderly villager, said, "It is a post harvest festival and since there are bountiful crops available, we play the game as a mark of celebration. The winner of the game will treat the participants with traditional wine. It is a festival filled with fun and enjoyment."
While Lerii Kaphi Cho, a spear throwing war game of Mao tribe, is held during the Saleni festival.
Lerii Kaphi Cho game showcases a contest between the youngsters and the elderly males and is intended to revive memories of the olden days when spears were used in wars. The game is a means of keeping traditions alive.
Hriiziio Adahe, one player, said: "We want to show how our forefathers used to play this game. They played it during the war and we are just imitating and learning how to throw the spear and learn."
Thisho Krund, a villager, said: "This war game is the significance of the warriors and this is not in the form of competition. But still while playing this game people will know who the best player is and who the best runners are."
Saleni festival, which symbolizes purity and cleanliness, marks the end of a month long period of celibacy of tribe members.
They celebrate the occasion with songs and dances. It is a celebration of life. And it is occasions such as these that offer a welcome break from the fear of militancy and violence in Manipur. by L.C.K Singh